Monday, May 21, 2018
Public safety

Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco seeks $5.8 million increase in budget

NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco's constitutional officers released their budgets Friday with Sheriff Chris Nocco requesting the largest spending increase at roughly $5.8 million.

Nocco's budget came in at $96 million, 6 percent higher than the current year spending plan.

Most of that increase would be aimed at retaining deputies. The sheriff blamed an exodus of agency members in February on low salaries, saying many moved to other departments because of stagnant wages the past five years and a crackdown on overtime pay.

He said he's worried the trend will continue, which is why he proposed adding $2.6 million for salaries. He intends to give agency members a 1 percent raise for each year of service with all raises capped at 5 percent. He also requested $333,460 for overtime pay.

County officials seemed receptive to the sheriff's idea, although that could change as county commissioners debate the various spending proposals in coming months. The new fiscal year starts Oct. 1.

"We have had good discussions leading up to the sheriff's budget submission today," County Administrator Michele Baker said.

The sheriff's budget was released Friday afternoon. Other constitutional officers — Clerk of the Circuit Court Paula O'Neil, Property Appraiser Mike Wells and Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley — also submitted their spending plans to Baker.

The budgets for the elections office and property appraiser proposed considerably smaller increases than Nocco's budget.

Corley's $3 million budget is roughly 1.36 percent higher than this year's budget. It includes a 3 percent raise for elections workers and allows for spending on new tabulation computers.

"We've needed them to be replaced for several years," he said. "If those go down I can't post election results."

Wells' budget came in at $4.4 million and represents a 2.6 percent increase. It includes spending on new technology and adjustments to pension funds.

O'Neil's overall budget, which includes funding from court fees, came in at $27.9 million, a decrease of nearly 5 percent over last year's spending plan. It includes a 3 percent raise for staffers.

However, the portion of her request from county funds is about $3.1 million, an increase of slightly more than 5 percent over this year. Most of that is due to a new financial system that replaces one in place since 1993.

"We have adjusted the budgets based directly on office activity and continue to move further into the electronic world in all aspects of our responsibility," O'Neil said.

Pasco tax collector Mike Fasano's budget, which is paid for by fees and not county tax dollars, is due in August and goes to the state's Department of Revenue.

Among other items Nocco requested:

• $345,537 in state-mandated pension increases

• $200,000 for mandatory maintenance of the agency's helicopter

• $94,000 for the helicopter's new night-vision infrared camera

• $63,103 for the sheriff's portion of the salaries of three new school resource officer positions. The rest of the $194,533 for the officers' salaries is paid by the Pasco school district.

• $31,078 to compensate for Officer Friendly grant funding reductions.

Staff writers Rich Shopes and Lisa Buie contributed to this report.

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